Photo by David Chamberlain / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Darius Horton / Sports Reporter
The Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders went down to Birmingham, Alabama, to face the University of Alabama-Birmingham Lady Blazers on Thursday in an early 11 a.m. showdown. Despite a great effort from Alex Johnson, the Lady Raiders lost a hard-fought game to the top team in the conference by a final score of 65-58.
The first quarter was challenging for both teams, as neither scored a basket for the first two-and-a-half minutes. Though they managed to tie the game twice, the lack of offense hurt MTSU and they were down 13-9 at the end of the first.
Jess Louro stole the ball from the Blazers early in the second quarter, which led to a layup by Katie Collier to give Middle Tennessee their first lead of the half. This quarter was a battle between both teams, as there were nine lead changes (five by UAB and four by MT) in the period.
The Lady Raiders kept this game close though, sending it into halftime tied at 21 after a jump-shot from Johnson.
For the game, Johnson finished with a solid showing of 17 points and five rebounds on 8-17 shooting.
Despite MTSU scoring the first basket of the third quarter, the Lady Blazers did not go away and showed why they are the top-ranked team in the conference. After the game was tied at 25, UAB took the lead back and never let it go.
The Lady Blazers pushed their advantage to as much as 14 with 3:37 to go in the game, and they held on by a final score of 65-58.
Depth scoring for UAB dooms Middle Tennessee
The Lady Raiders couldn’t stop three players from scoring in double digits.
Miyah Barnes had 19 points to lead the charge for UAB. In addition, Deanna Kuzmanic tallied 11 points, and Imani Johnson scored 15 points.
Johnson was the spark for the Lady Blazers, as she came off of the bench to light up the scoreboard. Combined, all three women shot 50 percent from the floor (14-28).
Middle Tennessee has to improve on defense to win games like this and to make a run in the conference tournament.
Foul trouble plagues Lady Raiders late
Just like many times this season, the Lady Raiders found themselves in foul trouble for most of the game.
Collier had the most fouls of the day with five, as she fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Gabby Lyon and Rebecca Reuter were each forced to play less aggressive down the stretch because they were each saddled with four fouls.
When MTSU’s best players aren’t on the floor, it’s a detriment to them as a team. It will be something to watch out for on Saturday.
The Lady Raiders will try to redeem themselves against the Charlotte 49ers on Sunday. The game will tip-off at 12 pm.
To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email email@example.com.